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Nvidia launches its quad-core Tegra 3 chip

Asus gets the first bite
Wed Nov 09 2011, 11:26

CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia has released its quad-core Tegra 3 system-on-chip (SoC) known previously as Kal-el.

Nvidia's Tegra 3 SoC follows on from the firm's successful dual-core Tegra 2 chip that it launched in January. A month later Nvidia was already showing off devices running Kal-el, claiming that the chip would be in products by the end of the year, and it seems the firm managed to deliver.

Nvidia has dropped the codename and the quad-core ARM Cortex A9 based processor is known as the Tegra 3. While the chip is sold as a quad-core unit, Tegra 3 has a fifth core that operates at a lower clock speed. Graphics horsepower comes from a 12-core Geforce GPU with Nvidia claiming a threefold improvement in graphics performance for the Tegra 3 over the Tegra 2.

Asus has already shown off its Eee Pad Transformer Prime tablet, which is the launch device for the Tegra 3. Nvidia hopes the Transformer Prime will be received better than the LG Optimus 2X, which was the launch device for the Tegra 2.

Unsurprisingly, Nvidia was keen to stress the performance of Tegra 3 for gaming, lining up developers to exalt the virtues of quad-core processing. Interestingly, despite the many partners commenting, only Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia made a brief point about energy efficiency.

Nvidia claims Tegra 3 chips "generally consume less power than dual-core processors", claiming a 12 hour battery life during video playback. We will have to wait until we can test the Transformer Prime to verify that claim, but similar claims were made about dual-core SoCs and few users saw tangible improvements in battery life over single-core devices.

Both Qualcomm and Texas Instruments are expected to launch their quad-core SoCs in the coming months, so Nvidia won't have the quad-core market to itself for too long. However by appearing in the Asus Transformer Prime, it certainly has an impressive poster device. µ


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